By Cynthia Hua
Three students who had almost no technical background only four months ago may soon be launching a restaurant recommendations app after spending 10 weeks this summer in Tech Bootcamp, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s immersive programming instruction course.
Tastiii — a “virtual concierge” for dining and delivery options — was developed by undergraduates April Koh, Jacob Williams and Jordan Jefferson in July as their final project for Tech Bootcamp. With Tastiii, users will be able to view local dining options based on a mood or craving such as “hot date,” “no time” or “post-workout.” The project is now being incubated through YEI's Venture Creation Program (VCP), which provides guidance and financial support to early-stage student startups.
“It’s a really simple process based on how recommendations are really done,” Jefferson says of the app. “Instead of going to Google to get options, you pick a mood or a craving.”
As a VCP team, Tastiii is given up to $2,500 to develop their prototype. The three students are also receiving access to YEI Consultants and corporate partners, and given workspace in the YEI Incubator. Koh, Jefferson and Williams meet with a VC Advisor — a select group of graduate and professional students with relevant business experience — around every other week to track their progress.
The students intend to launch the app for New Haven initially and gradually expand to other cities depending on its success. They were able to compile a long list of local restaurants during Tech Bootcamp and are currently refining an algorithm to automatically match places to mood and situations based on existing online descriptions.
Tastiii intends to offer a more aesthetic, streamlined experience than existing apps such as Yelp, Koh says. The speakers that visited during Tech Bootcamp encouraged them to aim high, she added, and the team believes they can compete with big companies by identifying areas of need.
The team spent the last three weeks of Tech Bootcamp working continuously on the project, the students said.
“I came to this program and it opened my eyes to this whole world of entrepreneurship and it was really inspiring,” Koh says. “I’m definitely really interested in entrepreneurship in the tech space and that’s what I want to pursue after I graduate.”